After weeks of work, all of the Delaware Public Education salaries over $100,000 have been posted with a few exceptions. Those are four charter schools who either did not respond or will in the next couple of days. But there is more than enough data to make some sense out of all this. Many asked why I was posting these. There were several reasons: requests, comparisons, money tracking, and general curiosity. But the main reason was to see if I could answer the age-old question- “Are there too many administrators?” Finally, I am prepared to answer that. Continue reading
New Castle County Vo-Tech School District has a lot of very high-priced administrators in their district. Their leader, Dr. Victoria Gehrt, is the second highest paid Superintendent in the state. Their enrollment has gone up in the past four years by over 168 students but they have eight less administrators making over $100,000. What is very interesting with them is their Assistant Principals seem to begin in the $120,000 range, which is significantly higher than the rest of the state. All of their Principals are in the $140,000 range. This is what happens when the General Assembly approves a line-by-line budget as they do with all the vocational districts in Delaware. I do get that all of their schools are high schools and those usually require Assistant Principals. It just seems way out of proportion when compared to other districts. Of note is the fact they do not appear to have an Assistant Superintendent so perhaps that is a wash. Continue reading
Three more charter schools. Two in New Castle County, one in Kent. One centers around Spanish language skills. Another is a special education theme. One originally began with a theme of zero tolerance with school discipline but changed its tune. One had a ruckus last fall when their school leader was placed on leave because he wanted more pay for teachers. Continue reading
Delaware has three vocational districts, one for each county. For this post, I’m combining Polytech (Kent) and Sussex Tech (Sussex). Both have fixed enrollments. In fact, Sussex Tech got in trouble a few years ago for going over that fixed amount of students. The key difference in funding between the vo-techs and the districts and charters is the Delaware General Assembly sets their budget in line-by-line items in their annual budget. As well, their boards are appointed by the Governor of Delaware. Their salaries can be higher than the districts around them in certain areas. And what is up with Sussex Tech’s former Superintendent still making the big bucks? Isn’t he former? Oh yeah, he’s been on paid leave since last June because of inappropriate land deals down there according to the Cape Gazette. Do these two schools really need this many administrators? Continue reading
The last of the traditional school district, Woodbridge School District is another one of the “cross-county” districts. They are a growing district. They also have a Superintendent with a name that sounds like a movie star: Heath Chasanov. I’ve written a billion of these salary posts so I feel I ‘m allowed a bit of humor as I approach the finish line. But I digress. Woodbridge is also home to someone I admire, Michele Marinucci. The district’s special education coordinator, along with State Rep. Kim Williams, got the Special Education Strategic Plan formed into a cohesive committee that is doing great things for special education in Delaware. Chasanov has been commended by the Delaware Dept. of Education for the district’s growth on the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Not my cup of tea, but it keeps them in the spotlight. Continue reading
Smyrna and Clayton are very tight-knit communities. Many in the Smyrna area will tell you the Smyrna School District runs the town. Whether that is true or not, one thing is true: Superintendent Patrik Williams certainly runs his schools! By keeping administrative costs down, he runs a tight ship. While Smyrna is not the fastest growing area in the state, it is certainly growing. Smyrna’s biggest competition is local charter schools Providence Creek Academy and First State Military Academy, both in Clayton. The district has grown modestly by about 200 students in the past four years. Last year, former Superintendent Deborah Wicks retired. The one thing about Smyrna that troubles me to no end is their very high expulsion rates. They are the highest in the state. Last year they had 30 expulsions. To me, that is zero tolerance. Something we should be getting away from. It is rumored Smyrna does this so they can pay for pre-paid spots at Parkway Academy. While this hasn’t been made official, it makes sense in a bizarre way. The State Board of Education sees more expulsion appeals come from Smyrna over any other district or charter school. There is a reason for that. Williams is a pretty funny guy once you get to know him. Continue reading
The Seaford School District lies on the western edge of Sussex County. The district hovers around the just below 3,500 mark most of the time. Even though their enrollment is the same, they have two more administrators making over $100,000 than they did four years ago. Like their neighbor to the south, Laurel, they have a high percentage of low-income students and English Language learners. The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission brought up both of these districts many times in their reports on Delaware public schools. Seaford reminds me of the school district I grew up in with its make-up four elementary schools, a middle school, and a high school. But that’s where the similarities end. My school district was about 3/5ths the size of Seaford. Which means they have a lot of kids in their buildings. Continue reading
Red Clay Consolidated School District has become a cash cow.
I thought I had a general idea of my overall theory of school administrators in Delaware. Red Clay was the last to respond to my FOIA request with their numbers. I sat for a good ten minutes just staring at what they sent me. While Christina and Red Clay have the exact same amount of administrators, Christina has more schools AND holds statewide programs like the Delaware Autism Program. Both have 93 administrators. But in reviewing Red Clay’s, along with some of the titles, I was utterly shocked. They have individual supervisors for each core subject, personnel specialists, and program coordinators. Continue reading
The Milford School District is one of the few districts in Delaware that lies in two different counties. For Milford, both Kent and Sussex County have parts of the district. As a result, their tax pool is different. A couple of years ago, Milford, like many other districts, had to raise their tuition tax. This is a portion of property taxes the public does not get a vote on. The money is for special education costs. Milford raised their tuition tax considerably and the public got sticker shock when they opened their tax bill. As a result, it forced the district to become very frugal with their spending. The district has the second lowest amount of administrators over $100,000 based on their student count. New Superintendent Kevin Dickerson inherited the previous Superintendent’s mess but is doing a decent job of putting the district back on solid ground. The district has 104 less students than they had four years ago and three less administrators making over $100,000. Continue reading
These five charter schools are very distinctive in one area: they all have low populations of special education students compared to their surrounding districts. But those aren’t the only comparisons among them. Two of them have school leaders that received salary bumps over $50,000 and then resigned or are set to retire. Pension law in Delaware sets your pension based on your three highest years of salary. Intentional? You be the judge.
These five charters range from near the top of Delaware in New Castle County all the way to the heart of Sussex County with one right near the middle in Kent. All of these charters have significant student enrollment and have taken many students from their surrounding school districts. They are also in very populous, and in some cases, fast growing areas of the state.
One of the southernmost districts in Delaware, Laurel school district’s population is increasing at a modest rate. But it also has a very large percentage of low-income students. As well, they are dealing with a fast growing population of English Language learners. Many districts in western Sussex county face the same issue with property assessments bearing a large burden on local taxpayers. The way the system was set up decades ago has winners and losers. For Laurel property owners, they lose big. As a result, the district is forced to tighten their money belt the same time their population is growing. Four years ago, only the Superintendent made over $100,000, now there are five. Continue reading
Lake Forest School District is in the northern part of Sussex County. Student enrollment hovers around the 3,800 mark each year. New Superintendent Brenda Wynder faces many of the same challenges other districts face in Sussex based on property assessments being among the lowest in Delaware. As a result, the district only has 12 administrators making over $100,000. Continue reading
Indian River School District, located in central Sussex County, has the least amount of administrators per student out of all the school districts in Delaware. The district has 1,000 more students than they did four years ago. With a growing population and over 10,400 students in the district, Indian River had to cut back on administrators back in the Fall of 2016 to avoid the state having to bail them out during a financial crisis. Their former leader, Susan Bunting, is now the Delaware Secretary of Education. Mark Steele leads the district now and has to deal with doing more with less. Compared to similar districts with student enrollment at that size, such as Appoquinimink and Brandywine, Indian River runs a tight ship these days. Indian River has a large number of English Language learners in the district and with a current lack of extra funding for those students, it can be tough. The district faced an investigative audit by the State Auditor’s Office at the same time they tried to pass a referendum. While the referendum did eventually pass, it caused the district to get their finances together fast!
The smallest school district in Delaware! Delmar is a very interesting district because it shares schools with another state, Maryland. As a result, students spend their school years in two states. I’ve never understood how or why the thing went down like it did. As a result, they run a tight ship and don’t go hog-wild on administrators. There are only three administrators making over $100,000 which is the same as four years ago. Their enrollment ebbs and flows around the 1,300 mark year after year. The Delaware side of the district has the middle school and high school while Maryland has the elementary schools. Continue reading
I underestimated Colonial School District for years. I always thought they were just kind of there and they were off my radar. I didn’t write much about them. Under the leadership of Superintendent Dusty Blakey, Colonial is changing before our very eyes. How and why is something I plan on writing much more about in the future. Colonial struggles to hit that 10,000 student mark. They face the same thing other districts up there do as they are surrounded by charter schools. Which baffles me why Blakey would push for the district to be an authorizer of Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security. But I digress. Colonial’s board is in for a massive shake-up in the upcoming school board election so it will be interesting to see where this district goes in the future. Blakey is everywhere these days, attending meetings in Dover all the time and pushing for public/private partnerships. But a growing discontent among teachers in his district may force Blakey to take a second look at his big push for more Relay Graduate School teachers. The district does have 6 less administrators making $100,000 and over than they did 4 years ago. Continue reading
In the next round of Delaware charter schools that have salaries over $100,000, we have an eclectic mix that include two Kent County schools and three New Castle county. Two are military schools, one has a pseudo-religious theme, one is a first responder school, and the other has a unique partnership with Delaware State University. In my eyes, if you are going to have a charter school, make it different from the schools around you. And these charters certainly fit the bill! Two of them, as you can see by their demographics, are on my radar of what I view as skewed special populations in some areas. One of them, however, could disappear by the end of June if they don’t get their student enrollment up very soon! Delaware Military Academy is authorized by Red Clay Consolidated School District. ECHS and the two FSMAs opened up after the News Journal came out with their salary article in 2014. Continue reading
The Christina School District. They have less administrators than they did four years ago, but they also have over 2,000 less students than they did then. Much of that can be attributed to the very big charter school growth during that time. Not only were new charters springing up all over the place, but existing charters expanded their enrollment by adding new grades. Former Superintendent Freeman Williams resigned in the Fall of 2015 and the district did not get a new Superintendent until the beginning of 2017. The Delaware DOE and various Delaware Governor’s public education target, Christina has actually come a long way. Last month they signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Governor Carney and the Delaware Department of Education. They are taking a strong look at each of their schools, not only in Wilmington but also the Newark/Bear/Glasgow area as well.
I’ve predicted their demise but that was more of a warning shot to them. Out of all the districts and charters in Delaware, I’ve probably written about them the most. Which I feel gives me the ability to defend them when the need arises. The district certainly has their challenges but all districts do. Christina has some of the highest numbers of low-income and special education students in the entire state. While they don’t have the highest percentage of low-income students, they have the highest number of students. And many of those, especially in Wilmington, are students of poverty. They aren’t the district I’m worried about. More on that another day.
A very important note about their numbers. The district itself has 75 administrators making over $100,000. While that may seem like a lot, they also have over 15,000 students in their district despite the charter explosion in the past decade. But they also hold special programs in their district, such as the Delaware Autism Program and the Delaware School For The Deaf. With those programs, the district has 93 administrators making over $100,000. This is an important distinction which will play out later on. Four years ago they had 108 administrators hitting the over $100,000 mark.
The Capital School District is in the middle of Kent County where the capital of The First State lies. Even their middle school, Central, boasts itself as being in “The Heart of Dover”. Their enrollment has pretty much been flat over the past four years. The district has two middle schools, one for 5-6 and one for 7-8. Potential plans may change that in the future, but this also causes a bit more administrative positions than most school districts. Superintendent Dan Shelton is going on his 3rd year in the district. He replaced Dr. Michael Thomas who retired at the end of the 2014-2015 school year. Capital is one of the districts in the state with the largest percentage of low-income students. As notated in the article on Caesar Rodney, the competition between the two districts is well-known in Kent County! Continue reading
Travelling to Sussex County, the Cape Henlopen School District is a very unique district. The taxpayers in Cape Henlopen pass referenda at a much higher rate than most districts in Delaware. This is considered to be a wealthier district in the state. Their student count has gone up by about 600 students over the past four years. Cape doesn’t have as many schools and their student count is significantly lower than, say, Caesar Rodney. Yet they have more administrators with less students and less buildings. This is, in large part, due to the fact that the taxpayers are more willing to pass referendum which establishes local funding for school districts. With that being said, they have two less administrators making over $100,000 than they did four years ago. Continue reading
I did not forget charter schools in my mammoth Freedom of Information Act request! With the above charter schools, the amount of employees making over $100,000 varies, usually based on student count. Two of them have NO employees making over $100,000. For Charter School of Newcastle and East Side Charter School, they are grouped together because they fall under the umbrella called Vision Academies. For five of these charter schools, comparing their demographics to Charter School of Wilmington is crazy. It has never been a secret that I have extreme issues with CSW’s demographics. Two of these schools are in Dover, one is in New Castle, and the other three are in Wilmington. Continue reading